Monday, September 29, 2014

3 Totally Awesome Small Business Podcasts and a Google Hangout


photo credit: tranchis via photopin cc
I've become totally addicted to podcasts.

A half-hour podcast will take me through a bike ride with my dogs; two podcasts will keep me company for a five-mile run.

I don't commute anywhere in my car, but if I did, you'd better believe I'd be tuned in while on the road.

I've listened to Adam Smith, Hesse, Emerson, Thoreau, and Wattles thanks to Librivox.org's podcasts.

In short, podcasts basically rock the world.

Here are my current favorites...plus a bonus Google Hangout, just for good measure. (If you haven't checked out Google Hangouts yet, they're definitely the best part about Google Plus. Well worth signing up for!)

By the way, I fully intend to share even more awesome podcasts and Hangouts with you as I discover them, so stay tuned!

The Podcasts:


1. Paycheck to Passion Podcast


My absolute favorite podcast right now is Paycheck to Passion. Co-hosted by Jasper Blake and Meredith Eisenberg, "Paycheck to Passion" is a series of interviews of real-life entrepreneurs and small businesspeople who are out there alongside us in the trenches, learning, growing, making a living at what they love, and freely passing on their inspiration, knowledge, and stories. This podcast is very human, down-to-earth, and wonderfully personal and will leave you feeling inspired and thinking "Oh, my God, why didn't I think of that?"

2. Social Triggers Insider Podcast


Another favorite podcast is Social Triggers Insider. Derek Halpern is a keen observer of human psychology (and as a result is a brilliant sales guy), and his podcast features fascinating and entertaining interviews with other entrepreneurs, nonprofit leaders, small business owners, and fellow students of the human psyche. If you love marketing and human psychology, this is your podcast.

3. The Social Media Marketing Podcast


The Social Media Marketing podcast from Social Media Examiner with Michael Stelzner is for social media uber-geeks. It features interviews with the very hottest and hippest marketeers on the ragged and bleeding front lines of social media, and each podcast is so full of exciting tips and cool ideas it's difficult not to want to drop everything and go implement what you've just learned.

4. The Mia Connect Power Chat Google Hangout on Air


And finally, as promised, the Google Hangout of the Day: The Mia Connect Power Chat. Sometimes she interviews panels of social media or marketing power-hitters; sometimes she interviews individual business owners with incredible and inspiring stories...but every interview is conducted with heaping  helpings of heart, warmth, power, inspiration, entertainment, and downright silliness.

Okay, I've done my part. Now it's your turn: go discover podcasts, and through them connect yourself aurally with a whole world of other real, live, amazing, flesh-and-blood, human beings.

You'll wonder why you waited so long.

Guaranteed.

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Symblème Services Online
Catharine Symblème, Small Business Evangelist
315 State Avenue
Alamosa, CO 81101
719-937-1815

Social Media | Blogging | Content Creation | Local SEO
Bringing 21st Century Word-of-Mouth Marketing to Small Businesses

Monday, September 22, 2014

Pshhhhhht! I don't need a website!

photo credit: RTD Photography via photopin cc
The other day I ran into the owner of a charming little brick-and-mortar shop and told her that I found a great video that I wanted to share with her, but lost her business card and couldn't find her contact information online.

I asked her, "Do you have a website or anything"?

She responded, "Pshhht! I don't need one of those! Here's my email address..."

She rattled it off, and, of course I promptly forgot it.

There are those who would say, "You should have taken that opportunity to educate her, to tell her that word-of-mouth marketing has spread to the Internet and social media, and that she's missing out on a huge opportunity to reach out to new customers..." And so on and so forth.

And yeah, those people would be right; I could have take the time to do this. But in this case, I didn't.

You see, sometimes people kind of do a funny thing when you try to "educate" them. Instead of listening and learning, quite often they dig in their heels, put up their guard, and stop listening.

When I get a response like "Pshhhht! I don't need a website!", that tells me that this person isn't ready to listen.

It's sort of like catching a horse in a pasture. That horse knows you want to ride it, but it doesn't want to be ridden. So it's going to run away from you. And the faster you try to chase it, the faster it runs. You could spend hours playing this game, but because that horse is stronger and faster than you, it's always going to win.

But if you stop chasing that horse; if you turn your back, squat down, and start playing with sticks, or reach into your pocket for those apple snacks, guess what happens?

About 75% of the time, that horse is gonna get curious and come up to YOU to find out what's going on.

So the best thing to do with these folks is simply drop it and walk away.

Maybe, like that horse, they'll get curious after awhile and wonder what you're up to. Or maybe they won't. It's okay.

There are over seven billion people on the planet, and not all of them are going to be your clients.

If they were, you'd be really, really busy.


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Symblème Services Online

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Social Media | Blogging | Content Creation | Local SEO

Bringing 21st Century Word-of-Mouth Marketing to Small Businesses


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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Google Plus 101 for Business: How To Set Up a Google Plus Profile, Page, and Place, and Write Killer G+ Posts

What's Covered in This Post:  

1. Why You Need Google Plus
2. Creating a Google Plus Personal Profile
3. Making Your Google Plus Profile a Digital Business Card
4. Creating a Google Plus Business Page
5. Claiming a Google Plus Local Page
6. Posting on Google Plus

1:  Why Google Plus is a Must-Have 

If you want to get your website onto that coveted first page of a Google search for your product, then Google Plus is one of your greatest allies.

Why?

a. Google loves Google. This means that Google loves it when you use their products. Google Plus, Google Places, Google Business Page, Google Maps, Google Translate, Gmail…the more Google tools you use, the better they like it.

b. Social signals. Facebook Likes, Twitter Favorites, Google +1s -- are being taken more seriously by Google as indicators that a site offers quality, relevant content to searchers. It makes Google look good when they can direct an Internet user to a good site, and the more quality content Google can direct its users to, the more likely those users are going to come back and use Google again.

c. According to GlobalWebIndex, 25% of worldwide Internet users are now using Google Plus, which means a chunk of your customers are using it, too.

d. Hangouts. But we’ll get to that in Google Plus 201.

2:  Create a Basic Personal Profile 

a. Go to plus.google.com. If you have a Gmail or other Google app account, Google will sign you in automatically (It’s kind of creepy – but it also saves you having to remember a bunch of passwords, which is nice). If not, click “Create an account” at the bottom of the page to set up a Gmail account.

b. You will be taken to a screen called “Create a new Google account”. Go ahead and follow the on-screen instructions to fill this in.

c. When you have set up an account with Google, click “Finish” to sign into Google +. 

d. When you first log into Google+ you will need to set up a profile to get the best out of the utility. Click on Create Profile.

e. Complete your personal information and a username that everyone will see. Click “Upgrade”

f.: On the next page, Google+ will ask you if you want to add anyone that it thinks you might know to your friends list. For now, just skip over this step by clicking “Continue”. 

g. The next page then ask you if you want to follow other pages that might interest you. Again, for now just skip over this step by clicking “Continue” and “Continue anyway”.

h. If you have a photo, now is the time to upload it to your profile. Otherwise, skip this step by clicking “Continue”.

i. For now, skip over the part about where you went to school or where you work and click “Finish”.

j.  In the upper right corner, click on your logo and click “Add Account” 

3:  Make Your Profile into a Digital Business Card

I can't say it any better than Gerry Moran at Marketingthink.com
Infographic from Marketingthink.com


4:  Create Your Google+ Local Business Page

Now that you have a personal profile on Google Plus, you can set up a Local Business Page.

1. Click "Home" to the upper left of your profile page:



2. Select "Pages" from the menu that drops down:



3. Click “Get your page” 

4. Choose your business type

5. Depending on what kind of business you choose, the next steps are going to be different. Take some time at this point and really fill out the information as completely as you can. Include hours of operation, complete contact information, location, logos, menus if appropriate, etc.

6. Tips:
  • If you’re local, use every opportunity to include location-specific keywords, such as San Luis Valley, Colorado, Alamosa, etc.
  • Make your business page as visually appealing as possible with logos and photos. Especially photos of you. People like knowing who they’re doing business with.
  • Think about your branding. What do you want to be known for? What colors do you want people to associate with you?

Posting on Google Plus

Posting for your business is a little different from just posting for fun, whether it’s on Google Plus or any other social media channel, because you want to do more than just entertain your friends. You want to establish yourself as an authority in your field, create and nurture relationships with current and prospective clients, and maximize the possibility of Google’s search engine finding you. 

How to create a kick-ass business post on Google Plus


1. Go to the “Share what’s new” box in your Home stream:



2. Add an image.

You should ALWAYS include an image or photo in social media posts, unless you’re sharing a link, in which case Google Plus chooses an image for you.
  • Click on the “Photos” icon
  • On the popup box, either drag and drop or upload a photo from your computer, or select a photo from your Google+ photos. Keep in mind that the higher the resolution of your photo, the bigger it will appear in Google Plus


(NOTE: Google Plus also allows you to use animated gifs! Just upload them like you would any other image. Check out giphy.com for freebies.)

  • Edit your image if you like, using the Auto Enhance, Add Text or Rotate Right icons

You can also share a link, browse for a YouTube video, or create an Event from the “Share What’s New” box.

4. Write your text
Google Plus will allow you to write long posts, and many Plussers actually use their posts as mini-blog posts. If you write a long post, make sure to break up your text with plenty of white space, numbers, and other formatting that will make your post easy to skim.

5. Format your text
Yes, unlike Facebook (oops, did I just say the F-word?), Google Plus will actually allow you to do a little basic FORMATTING, which is one of my favorite features.  Here’s how:

To bold, enclose your text in *asterisks*
To italicize, enclose it in _underscores_
To strikeout, enclose it in –hyphens-

6. Create a great post title or headline
Titles and headlines carry a heavy load in the online world – yes, even in social media. Not only do headlines have to distract people with the attention spans of goldfish into reading your post, they have to grab Google’s attention as well. It’s worthwhile spending some time crafting really great headlines.

Here’s two things to think about when creating a headline:

For Google: The Almighty Keyword is King
Google is always on the prowl for keywords, so if you’re posting something about railroads on Google Plus, you’ll want to include the word “railroad” in your post title. The closer to the beginning “railroad” appears, the better, and if you can squeeze your keywords into your Google Plus post a few times as well, awesome.

If you have a local business, also make sure that your headline includes local keywords if possible, such as “San Luis Valley”, “Colorado”, or “Alamosa”.

For Audiences: Go for Emotions
Marketers have known for a long time that emotionally-laden words get more attention than neutral words. A post titled “Warning: Peanut Butter Cookie Porn Ahead” is going to get more attention than a post titled “My Favorite Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe”.

One final thing: Make sure that headline is in *bold*!

Want some great headline ideas? Go to Boost Blog Traffic and download Jon Morrow’s 52 Headline Hacks. You’ll need to sign up for his newsletter – but believe me, his newsletter is well worth signing up for. You won’t regret it.

Also, here’s a great online toy for evaluating your headline’s emotional impact

7. Tag any +Plussers who are helping you out.
If you want to express appreciation for another Plusser, you can tag them by typing +theirname (no spaces).  If you tag them, they’ll get a notification about that tag, and most likely they’ll come read your post, because people like reading nice things about themselves.

(If your post isn’t nice, consider sending that person a private message instead.)

For example, “Thanks to +JohnDoe for helping me edit my new ebook, “Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire: Transitioning from Employee to Entrepreneur in the 21st Century”.

8. Use #hashtags
Google Plus supports hashtags, and just like keywords, hashtags are great for helping Google and readers find you. In the example above, I might use the hashtags #entrepreneur and #success at the end of the post, probably on a separate line, like this:

“Thanks to +JohnDoe for helping me edit my new ebook, ‘Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire: Transitioning from Employee to Entrepreneur in the 21st Century’.
#entrepreneur #success

Just make sure your hashtag is relevant to your content, and don’t use more than maybe four or five hashtags; otherwise, your post looks spammy – and Google thinks so, too.

Not sure what hashtag to use? Here’s a great site for getting hashtag ideas and finding out your hashtag's popularity. 

9. Select who you want to see your post


Choose from “Public”, “Your Circles”, “Extended Circles” another Circle, or a Community you’re a member of.

10. Decide whether to email your post to everybody


You can do this by clicking the check box next to “Also send email to [NameOfGroup]”.
(Honestly, I’ve been too chicken to try this yet; I’d be VERY careful!)

For some great ideas on things to post about, check out this article from Social Media Examiner: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/26-ideas-social-media-updates/

Conclusion: 

As you can see, Google Plus, and its sisters Google Business Pages and Google Plus Local Pages are a powerful combination of applications that work together to get your small business visible on Google searches – and in front of the eyeballs of potential customers.

Stay tuned for Google Plus 201, in which I’ll be covering Google Plus strategies, Hangouts, Communities, Ripples, +1s, and other cool Google Plus stuff. 

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Symblème Services Online
315 State Avenue
Alamosa, CO 81101
719-937-1815

Social Media | Blogging | Content Creation | Local SEO
Bringing 21st Century Word-of-Mouth Marketing to the San Luis Valley 

Monday, September 8, 2014

12 Astounding Reasons Why Your Small Business Should Use Social Media Marketing

photo credit: Jason A. Howie via photopin cc
This is a really great rundown on why small- to mid-sized businesses need to take social media seriously, by Tim O'Malley from LinkedIn.

A few points that jumped out for me:

"68% of Facebook users say a recommendation from a Facebook friend would make them more likely to buy a specific product or visit a certain retailer."

"In this day of monstrous CPMs and fragmented media, why continue to rent your audiences by running newspaper and radio ads when you can buy your own highly targeted audience comprised of your best prospects through social media? Sure, it takes time to build, but like any good asset, it is worth the investment."

"Use social monitoring tools and research to find out what your customers are saying about your business. Successful businesses use this valuable information to enhance customer relationships and business."

And here's something I want to find out more about, because what I hear a LOT about from local businesses is how difficult it is to find good help: 

“92% of companies use social media for recruitment. 73% of companies hired successfully through social media.”

~ Catharine

%%%%%%%%%%%%


By Tim O'Malley

Are you a small or mid-sized business (SMB) trying to figure out the real value of social media for your organization?

Is your SMB trying to figure out why in the blazes to use social media marketing at all?
Well, in a word, the answer is: results! Businesses are flocking to the social media-sphere in droves. According to LinkedIn, nine in 10 SMBs use or plan to use social media. Ninety-four percent use social media for marketing. Seventy-three percent use social media and social ads. What’s more, half of SMBs have increased their spend on social media compared to the previous year, higher than that of any other marketing channel. Why? Here is a quick list of social media marketing benefits for small businesses:

1. Social media drives new business and increases sales –

  • According to Crowdspring, 50% of small business owners reported the gain of new customers through social media, most notably through Facebook and LinkedIn.
  • According to LinkedIn, “82% report that it is effective for lead generation.”
  • HubSpot’s State of Inbound Marketing says that, “77% of B2C and 43% of B2B companies say they’ve acquired customers through Facebook.”

2. Social media marketing increases awareness –

  • “100% of business decision-makers use social media for work purposes,” according to Forrester.
  • 68% of consumers check out companies on social networking sites before buying.”
  • According to iMedia, “70% of marketers say that [social media] content marketing has increased their brand awareness.”
Read the rest of this article on LinkedIn.

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Symblème Services Online
315 State Avenue
Alamosa, CO 81101
719-937-1815

Social Media | Blogging | Content Creation | Local SEO
Bringing 21st Century Word-of-Mouth Marketing to the San Luis Valley

Thursday, September 4, 2014

12 Mind-Blowing Statistics Every Marketer Should Know

Using the Inter-net to land the big one!
photo credit: jayhuff via photopin cc 
If you run a small business, and you think that the Internet is something with which you catch fish, then here are some statistical fishing flies that might open your eyes as to how social media and blogging can help you land great clients and customers!

(Like my pun-ology? Thought you might. :-)

Even though this article was published in 2011 and the data might be a bit old, I'm willing to bet that the numbers haven't really shifted that much. In fact, if anything, in the past three years, the numbers have probably shifted in favor of social media and blogging, not the other way around!

Here are a few stats that caught my attention. (Okay, I'm done now. Really.)

Enjoy!

~ Catharine

%%%%%%%%%%%

By Marta Kagan


It's no secret that the marketing landscape has changed dramatically over the past few years as social and mobile technologies have gone from early-adopter novelties to mainstream essentials.

Still, there are plenty of traditional marketing stalwarts out there who aren't buying all of the social media hype or can't convince their boss or marketing team to experiment in the brave new world of inbound marketing .

So we've rounded up a dozen powerful stats that are sure to be eye-openers, if not total mind-changers.

1. 78% of Internet users conduct product research online.

That means your website stands a good chance of being a prospect's "first impression." That also means your new business card isn't a business card—it's Google.


2. In the past year, Web-based email usage dropped a staggering 59% among 12-17 year olds, who prefer to communicate via text, instant messaging, and social networks.

If 12-17 year olds aren't your primary customers, you may think, "So what? They're just kids." But web-based email usage has been on the decline among ALL Internet users under the age of 55. And by the way, today's kids are tomorrow's customers—and they're probably not going to be reading your email.

...

9. 41% of B2B companies and 67% of B2C companies have acquired a customer through Facebook.

If this stat doesn't poke a hole in the "Facebook is not useful for B2B companies" myth, I don't know what will.
...

11. Companies that blog get 55% more web traffic. 

The more you blog, the more pages Google has to index, and the more inbound links you're likely to have. The more pages and inbound links you have, the higher you rank on search engines like Google—thus the greater amount of traffic to your website. Which is why we repeat: Blogging is good.

Read the rest of the mind-blowing statistics here

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Symblème Services Online
315 State Avenue
Alamosa, CO 81101
719-937-1815

Social Media | Blogging | Content Creation | Local SEO
Bringing 21st Century Word-of-Mouth Marketing to the San Luis Valley

Monday, September 1, 2014

My first-ever interview on a Google Hangout On Air!!


I have a background in radio, so I've hosted other people on my show, but this'll be the first time I've ever been a guest on someone ELSE's show!

John Jurkiewicz is a life/business/career consultant from rural Kentucky. He's a terrific guy, very supportive, and has made me laugh my ass off through this whole process. He'll be interviewing me about the ups and downs of my employee-to-entrepreneur journey to date.

If you'd like to "listen in", click below to join Google Plus (if you haven't already), and mark your calendars for Wednesday evening at 7 PM MST.

(Okay, now, having told you all about this, I'm REALLY nervous...I hope I don't pee my pants or puke or do anything stupid...)

Click here to do whatcha gotta do to listen in! If you need help with this process, gimme a shout.

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Symblème Services Online
315 State Avenue
Alamosa, CO 81101
719-937-1815

Social Media | Blogging | Content Creation | Local SEO
Bringing 21st Century Word-of-Mouth Marketing to the San Luis Valley

Thursday, August 28, 2014

New Research on Word-of-Mouth Marketing

We all know that social media is roaring to the forefront of word-of-mouth marketing. But how does one gain a good reputation online?

One way is by offering stellar customer service. New studies are finding that over 70% of social networking with businesses revolve around customer service. People are asking questions and seeking advice via social media, and they want solutions to their problems in real time, on social media. Nobody wants to wade through automated phone systems, wait on hold, or be fobbed off on the appropriate department for problem-solving, and most people want responses to their tweets or posts within an hour!

Social media has become the new forum for customer service.

Here's more from Social Media Examiner:

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

By Kiera Stein

Do you want people to tell their friends about your business?

Are you getting positive word of mouth?

New research shows that word-of-mouth marketing has grown exponentially on social media.

In this article you’ll discover three ways you can encourage customers to tell their friends about you.

#1: Customer Service Tips the Scales


Mention.com analyzed 1 billion brand mentions in a recent study. What they found is somewhat surprising: 76% of brand mentions on the web and social media are neither positive nor negative.

What does this mean? On social media, neutral mentions blend into the background. When 76% of brand mentions are basically ignored, the positive and negative mentions stand out.

So how can you turn a neutral into a positive? One way is to provide excellent customer service. Use your website and other platforms to let customers know they can find you on social media when they have customer service needs.

#2: Easy Sharing Encourages Social Proof


Are you more likely to go to a new restaurant because the restaurant claims it has good food or because a trusted friend says it’s worth trying? There’s an implicit level of trust in any friendship that can’t be replicated between brand and consumer—this extends to purchasing behavior.

Conversations with friends and family are the most trusted source of information for consumers—and brands know it. eMarketer reports that brands view social sharing as the most effective use of social media.

According to research firm eMarketer, 68% of U.S. social media users ages 18-34 and 53% of those ages 35-44 say they are at least somewhat likely to make a purchase based on a friend’s social media updates.

When your customers share positive opinions and experiences on social media, it increases your credibility among potential customers in a way you, as a business, can’t. Social proof is a clear motivator.

Read the complete article here


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Symblème Services Online
315 State Avenue
Alamosa, CO 81101
719-937-1815

Social Media | Blogging | Content Creation | Local SEO

Bringing 21st Century Word-of-Mouth Marketing to the San Luis Valley